“Every time we use religion to draw a line to keep people out, Jesus is with the people on the other side of the line.” – Hugh Hollowell
Today is election day in South Carolina and in my district, a primary to fill the seat of conservative Congressman Trey Gowdy.
On the ballot are 13 Republican candidates for Congress. Yes you read that right 13, and over the last few months all 13 have attempted to convince us that they are the most conservative, the most pro-life, the most Christian, the most pro-gun and sadly, the biggest Trump supporter. The vast majority of these candidates show their “Christianess” on just two issues, abortion and gay marriage and as you can imagine all 13 are not only against both, all of them want to abolish them in some shape or form as well.
For gay marriage, most quote the Bible; Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. For abortion, most quote the law. They have determine that human beings become human beings at conception and that killing another human being, except in the case of executing prisoners and killing others on the battlefield, is murder and against the law.
It seems to me that the line the conservative, Evangelical world has drawn in the sand that separates us from them is gay abortions and they are doing everything in their power to convince us that Jesus agrees with them. How do they know Jesus is on their side of the line? They don’t. Their “faith” tells them that they have chosen the correct answer to the question just as my “faith” tells me that they are full of shit. At this point it comes down to a battle to the death, literally. Each of us will have to die to find out if we got it right.
Evangelicals have always been a little to giddy to me about being “ready to meet their maker”. Apparently Earth and needs of their neighbors just isn’t enough of a challenge for them. That simply can’t help or tolerate for that matter, people who don’t recognize how right they are. In order for them to serve the needs of others they must first get us to agree with them, hold their truths as facts, hold their beliefs as our beliefs. Otherwise, they can’t help us. Their mantra is very simple, I can’t help you if you won’t help yourself and the only way you can begin to help yourself is to believe as I do. That doesn’t seem very “Jesus like” to me but what do I know, I support gay abortions.
I taught a class last night whose theme was gratefulness. My audience was a good mix of middle age and older adults, probably more liberal than conservative in their thinking. I was talking about joy and asked, “What brings you joy?” I got very typical responses, children, grandchildren, friends, a warm bed, ice cream and then this from one lady; “I haven’t experienced the ultimate joy yet, none of us have.” I knew where this was headed but I let her finish, “We will experience the ultimate joy when we meet Jesus.”
Now, I am first and foremost a smart ass by nature but I restrained myself from challenging her. I wondered though if this nice, well-intentioned lady realized just how absurd her response sounded after she had heard everyone else talk about finding joy in children, friends, a beautiful sunset or warm cookies. So I asked, “Is there anything that brings you joy today? Here on Earth?” Her response, “Not the kind of joy I am living my life for.”
I realized something after I heard “Not the kind of joy I am living my life for” these pious, devout, conservative, evangelicals have forgotten who Jesus lived His short life for. They have forgotten Jesus’s mission here on Earth, to bring the Kingdom down among us, among the common people, the dirty people and the sinners. His mission wasn’t to judge, his mission was to love and accept. He wanted us to be joyful and to spread that joy by lifting-up rather than pushing down and not by drawing lines that separate us from each other. From Him. “Why wait?” He asked which is what I asked the lady last night, “Why wait?”